Why Pope Francis is Time’s Person of the Year 2013

Pope beats Miley Cyrus to Time title and tops list of world's most talked about topics on Facebook

LAST UPDATED AT 14:44 ON Wed 11 Dec 2013

POPE FRANCIS has been named Time’s Person of the Year, leaving Miley Cyrus and Barack Obama trailing in his wake.

The Pope, who was elected in March following the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, has been described as “The People’s Pope” by the magazine.

“In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very centre of the central conversations of our time,” says Time’s managing editor Nancy Gibbs, “about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalisation, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.”

Gibbs adds that Pope Francis was awarded the title for “pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy”.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden was named as runner-up, followed by gay rights activist Edith Windsor and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Miley Cyrus, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Barack Obama were also among the final ten contenders for the title, which acknowledges a person’s influence in shaping the news and history in the outgoing year.

Cyrus might have had higher hopes of becoming the most talked about topic on Facebook, but the Pope has beaten her to that title too. Even the birth of the Royal baby, Prince George, was forced into third place on the top ten global list released by the social networking site earlier this week.

‘Election’ was the second most mentioned term, with high-profile national polls in India, Kenya, Iran and Italy.

The Pope, who also has more than three million followers on Twitter, was described as “a social media phenomenon” by The Independent. “Whether he was making friendly overtures to other faiths or embracing a man severely disfigured by disease – Francis drove more conversation than anyone else in 2013,” says the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Pietro Valsecchi, the Italian director behind popular comedies Sun in Buckets (Sole a catinelle) and What a Beautiful Day (Che bella giornata) – the two highest grossing Italian films ever – has said he is eyeing up Antonio Banderas to star as a young Pope Francis in his new biopic, reports The Guardian.

Final ten contenders for TIME’s Person of the Year (listed alphabetically)

1 Pope Francis
2 Edward Snowden, NSA leaker
3 Edith Windsor, gay rights activist
4 Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria
5 Ted Cruz, Texas senator
 
Short-listed
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder
Miley Cyrus, singer
Barack Obama, US President
Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services
 
Ten most talked about topics on Facebook this year:

1 Pope Francis
2 Election
3 Royal baby
4 Typhoon
5 Harlem Shake
6 Flood
7 Miley Cyrus
8 Boston Marathon
9 Tour de France
10 Nelson Mandela · 

Disqus - noscript

Facebook: Religion, politics, royalty, weather, comedy, little girl, sports, personality. Looks about right.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.